Ideology of the
Common Core

by Ivan Larson

For a long time, Americans have perceived that student achievement levels have been falling behind those of other nations and that we need to do something about this. One effort to bring about improvement, led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, resulted in the creation of the Common Core Standards in 2009. Wyoming has joined 44 other states in adopting the standards, which are set to be implemented by 2014.

While it remains questionable whether or not the Common Core will actually achieve the goal of improving education performance, and whether or not it’s part of an effort to nationalize education, there is another aspect to consider: Beneath the debated aspects over federalism and effectiveness, the Common Core is a weapon of ideology. The writers of the Common Core have an opportunity to shape the way of thinking of a generation of Americans. An analysis of the English standards show the framers have chosen to use this chance to indoctrinate students with a very leftist ideology.

“… the Common Core is a weapon of ideology.”

The Common Core is not meant to produce individuals willing to take initiative and innovate in the model of our successes over more than 200 years. Instead, it is designed to produce a graduate who is more willing to fit into a collectivist model. It teaches a heavily revisionist history in which America’s past consists of almost nothing but slavery, segregation, and other forms of racial oppression. These distortions impede the maintenance of a free and democratic America.

One feature of the Common Core is that students are to read history and science texts in English class. The idea behind this is that while learning their literary skills, the students will also gain knowledge relevant in other subject areas. Consequently, students will be reading about these subjects with teachers who don’t necessarily know about the content at hand. A middle or high school English teacher may not be proficient as a science teacher or a history teacher. Therefore, they will be less likely to provide another view of the topic, or explain the accuracy or context of the reading. The students are thereby left at the mercy of what the reading wants them to think.

In doing an analysis about ideological bias, it is worth noting how the idea of bias itself is presented. In the Wyoming high school standards, students learn how to find the bias in a piece of writing. That skill is not taught to Common Core students1. In the Common Core, the student must still evaluate whether the evidence supports the claim, but never what the work’s bias is. Bias has a negative connotation; evaluating a claim does not. The absence of teaching about bias, combined with learning history from an English teacher, means students will be more accepting of the message being taught.

To uncover the bias in the Common Core, the first place to look is the suggested reading list. While these readings are only suggestions, they remain relevant for three reasons: first, they provide insight into the ideas of those who wrote the curriculum, second, they are likely to be adopted by schools that find it more convenient than creating their own reading list to align with the requirements of Common Core, and third, the Common Core Initiative aims to eventually create standards for other subjects, so the reading list gives a preview of what would be studied there.2

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